Mazda’s Jumbo-Sized Two-Row 2025 CX-70 Crossover SUV

Is less really more?

Dan Carney, Senior Editor

May 21, 2024

6 Min Read
The 2025 Mazda CX-70 in Soul Red Crystal Metallic.
The 2025 Mazda CX-70 in Soul Red Crystal Metallic.Mazda

At a Glance

  • 340-horsepower Turbo S
  • 280-horsepower Turbo
  • 323-horsepower plug-in hybrid

Mazda puts the “less is more” axiom to a very literal test with the introduction of the CX-70, a two-row crossover SUV that isn’t just based on the same platform as the three-row CX-90, it is completely identical other than the removal of the third seat.

Well, identical but for some decorative changes to some of the plastic parts like the grille and bumper covers that are meant to convey a sportier impression. And Mazda has added something it calls the “sub trunk,” which is a shallow storage tray beneath the rear load floor where the third-row seat would otherwise be

Contemporary safety standards mandate the chunky roof pillars that provide rollover protection in the event of a crash, at the price of obstructed view out of the cabin. At the same time, they require substantial head restraints to minimize whiplash in the event of a rear-end collision.

These two factors conspire to make the view out the back of any modern SUV very limited. My response, as an empty-nester who now rarely needs to put people in the third row is to habitually fold the third-row seats in SUVs and even to lower the second-row head restraints as much as possible to maximize the available rear visibility.

Is Two Better than Three?

With the CX-70, Mazda has taken this to the extreme, entirely removing the CX-90’s third-row seat. This ensures good rear visibility and a smooth, flat rear load floor that stretches all the way to the back of the second-row seats. This is good, but it seems to me that having the ability to occasionally use third-row seats to haul people in the CX-90 outweighs any possible benefit of having the seats entirely absent in the CX-70, even for those of us who don’t use the third row on a daily basis.

Related:CX-90 vs. XC90: Mazda or Volvo Plug-In Hybrid?

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Mazda says that two-row crossover buyers have a different demographic than those who buy three-row SUVs, so it needs the CX-70 to target those customers. But I think one of the things that people appreciate in two-row SUVs is their smaller size, which makes them more parking lot friendly.

The CX-70, like the CX-90, stretches 200.8 inches, making it longer than three-row family-hauling vehicles like the Ford Explorer and Volvo XC90. Vehicles of this size seem not to be what two-row SUV shopper want, but maybe Mazda has correctly identified a niche for customers who want luggage space and who never want to carry people or have to fold down a third row.

Powertrain Possibilities

The CX-70 is available with either a smooth-running turbocharged 3.3-liter inline 6-cylinder engine that is paired with a 48-volt mild hybrid system or a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter 4-cylinder plug-in hybrid system that taps a 17.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack for an EPA-estimated electric-only range of 26 miles. Previous cool-weather testing of the CX-90 PHEV at 65-mph highway speeds showed much worse real-world range. Driving the CX-70 in warm California springtime weather on a 55-mph two-lane and 65-mph Interstate, the EV range topped the EPA’s estimate.

Related:2024 Mazda CX-90 SUV Packs Engineering Innovation

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The 6-cylinder engine is available in either 340-horspower, 369 lb.-ft. Turbo S form or as the regular Turbo, which is rated at 280 hp and 332 lb.-ft. The plug-in hybrid’s combined output of its gas and electric motors is 323 hp and 369 lb.-ft.

With either powertrain you get an 8-speed planetary automatic transmission that uses a unique computer-controlled clutch in place of the usual torque converter. That sends power to the standard i-Activ all-wheel drive system that uses torque vectoring to help steer the CX-70 through curves.

“It sounds like gibberish,” acknowledges Mazda west coast PR person Jake Stumph, “until you turn it off. R&D did that, and the difference is amazing.” I did not have the ability to switch the system off to experience the CX-70’s natural, unassisted handling characteristics. But with the system on, the CX-70 uphold’s Mazda’s reputation for exceptional handling, easily dicing up the mountain switchbacks outside Palm Springs.

Related:Mazda Teaches Old Hardware New Tricks

No EV For You!

On the highway toward the mountains, where I was driving in EV mode to check the driving range, the combustion activated to provide an assist while pulling out into the left lane to overtake a slow-moving school bus (Is that redundant? Is there any other kind?).

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That was fine, but it was interesting to discover following the passing maneuver that the CX-70 was reluctant to return to EV mode. When I requested the change I was informed through a pop-up message on the instrument panel that EV mode was currently unavailable.

The car seemingly decided that, having summoned the combustion engine once, I couldn’t be trusted to stay in EV mode, so it was going to keep the gas engine running just in case. It was like the CX-70 thought I was a cat, meowing at the doorway, knowing that if I’m let out, I’ll just want back in immediately. After a few miles, the CX-70 relented and switched to EV mode.

While on the highway, I spent some time using the CX-70’s lane-keeping assist and cruise control systems. The lane-keeping system proved intrusive, constantly wrestling with me for control of the car’s direction. That gets tiresome quickly, so I’d be inclined to leave the system turned off.

The adaptive cruise control is better, maintaining a constant speed well. Maybe too well, because, unlike some systems that automatically slow for curves, the CX-70s cruise control barrels right through turns at pretty nearly the pre-set cruising speed.

Towing Capacity

If buyers want to take even more with them than fits in the CX-70’s enormous cargo bay, the PHEV version can tow 3,500 lbs. with the tow package, while the Turbo combustion model is good for 5,000 lbs. And if your trailer is a little more than 5,000 lbs., you should be OK. Stumph pointed out that the vehicle is certified for more towing weight in Europe, suggesting there is plenty of headroom on that rating.

It is comforting to have the flexibility to not worry on those occasions when you’re bumping up against that 5,000-lb. rating that the CX-70 will be fine. It seems to me like it would be similarly comforting to know that at any time you can flip up a stowed third row of seats to make room for a sixth and seventh passenger, as you can do in the CX-90.

The CX-70 goes on sale immediately, with pricing for the tested PHEV starting at $55,855 (including destination) and at $53,905 for the Turbo S.

About the Author(s)

Dan Carney

Senior Editor, Design News

Dan’s coverage of the auto industry over three decades has taken him to the racetracks, automotive engineering centers, vehicle simulators, wind tunnels, and crash-test labs of the world.

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